INJURIES CAUSED BY DOG BITES have
grown to epidemic proportions in recent years
and are now of major public health significance.
Animal bites may lead to dangerous viral and
bacterial infections, such as rabies, pasteurellosis,
and tetanus, and the injuries may result in permanent
scars, severe disability, and even death (1).
During 1972, a total of 7,436 animal bites,
including 6,922 dog bites, were reported to the
Baltimore City Health Department. These totals
represented a 147 percent increase over the 2,933
animal bites, including 2,884 dog bites, reported
for 1953. The rate per 100,000 population rose
from 303 to 836 during the same period, a 186
percent increase (1, 2).
In February 1973, William Donald Schaefer,
Mayor of Baltimore, appointed an Advisory Committee
on Canines to study and evaluate the increasing
problems of animal bites and stray dogsand to make
recommendations to implement better
animal control measures. Much information
that had been gathered and published over the
years was available to the committee (1-4); however,
to our knowledge, no definite information on
the medical costs and material losses from animal
bites had been published in recent years.
Because information regarding the financial
burden of dog bites was desired, the Baltimore
City Health Department decided in late February
1973 to conduct two surveys. In addition to seeking
information on medical costs, we wished to
collect data on the degree of disability sustained
by the dog bite victims and the ownership of the